On July 16, 2015, a panel discussion “Decentralization Reforms: Steps, Prospects, Expected Results” was held in Chernigiv. The discussion was initiated and supported by the project “Decentralization Support in Ukraine” (DESPRO), jointly with the Ministry of regional development, construction, and housing and communal services of Ukraine.

" /> DESPRO held a public discussion in Chernigiv
17.07.2015

DESPRO held a public discussion in Chernigiv

On July 16, 2015, a panel discussion “Decentralization Reforms: Steps, Prospects, Expected Results” was held in Chernigiv. The discussion was initiated and supported by the project “Decentralization Support in Ukraine” (DESPRO), jointly with the Ministry of regional development, construction, and housing and communal services of Ukraine.

First of all, it should be noted, that DESPRO has already held a series of public discussions in different oblasts of Ukraine. This activity resulted from the need to rise awareness level in the field of decentralization reforms (particularly, on introduction of amendments to the Constitution) and skills level of representatives of authorities, local self-government bodies, and citizens, especially in the current situation, when oblasts of Ukraine approved prospective plans of amalgamation of territorial communities as part of implementation of the Law of Ukraine “On Voluntary Unification of Territorial Communities” (# 157-VIII of 05.02.2015). It should be noted, that such discussions involve both representatives of authorities, and representatives of non-governmental organizations, activists, and local self-government bodies, allowing participants to hear different opinions and take them into account in the process of further work on reforms.

Thus, participants of Chernigiv discussion included representatives of local self-government, executive authority, public organizations, analytical centres, as well as public activists. During the first panel the discussion focused on constitutional amendments in local self-government sphere, which were developed by expert community, evaluated by the Venice Commission, registered on July 16, 2015, and considered by Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Particularly, the issue of the role and competencies of a prefect in Ukraine was considered: “The role of a prefect is to guarantee legitimacy of decisions and acts approved by a local authority. A prefect will perform solely controlling and monitoring functions, and in case a violation is detected, he can address the Administrative court. Beside that, under emergency or martial law, a prefect will organise the activity of local authorities: coordinate the actions of local councils and central authorities, and ensure implementation of state programmes”, said Igor Kolishko, head of administration of the Centre for Political and Legal Reforms. As for the Draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine of 15.07.2015, the following comment was made by Natalya Romanova, Vice-President of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe: “If a provision of a law has a complex formulation, it can, definitely, hide some grounds for speculations”. This comment characterized article 119 of the Draft, addressing the prefect’s competencies.

The second panel involved quite a lively discussion of capacity of authorities, local self-government bodies, and civil society organizations for implementation of the reform. “Local self-government in Ukraine is in the state of atrophy, and that is why we can feel readiness for change”, said the manager of decentralization group of Reform support council, Ivan Lukerya. Another opinion on the problem of national paternalism and mechanisms of communication and cooperation between authorities and local self-government was expressed by Oleksandr Kraskovsky, head of Zamglay settlement council (Chernigiv oblast): “There is the concept of “decentralization”, everyone is able to perceive, and there is the concept of “administrative and territorial organization” which is not perceived by everyone. Why? Because, for example, in larger cities nothing will change (roads, schools, hospitals etc.), while in the provinces the issue of territorial community amalgamation will emerge, which lies beyond understanding, due to lack of communication and informational support of reforms by the state”. Another discussion subject was the issue of initiative of local self-government representatives in the process of reform implementation, particularly, when it comes to adoption of prospective plans and involvement of all local authority levels in amalgamation of territorial communities. “In order to change something, not only in the country, but at the village or city level, we need to work a lot”, said Lyudmyla Damentsova, deputy director of the department of local self-government and territorial organization of authority of the Ministry of regional development, construction, and housing and communal services of Ukraine.

Next public discussions are scheduled by DESPRO in Sumy and Kharkiv.